A Seattle Municipal Court judge handed down the sentence after learning that Hansen voluntarily agreed to outpatient treatment and to abstain from drug and alcohol use for the next year.
Celebrity fishing-boat captain Sig Hansen was given a deferred sentence, ordered to undergo alcohol treatment and put on a year of probation Thursday for assaulting an Uber driver after a night of drinking in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood last year.
The punishment lined up with what city prosecutors initially had recommended under a plea deal last month with the reality TV star.
Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna, who last month postponed Hansen’s sentencing after raising concerns about his drinking, handed down the sentence after learning that Hansen voluntarily agreed to outpatient treatment and to abstain from drug and alcohol use for the next year.
The judge also received further details about a 2008 disorderly conduct case in Alaska in which an allegedly drunken Hansen was charged after punching a man at least twice in a bar.
“I hope that you will take this opportunity to make some positive changes in your life,” McKenna told Hansen.
Hansen pleaded guilty to assaulting the driver, Waheed K. Lawal, last month as part of a deal in which city prosecutors agreed to drop a property-destruction charge against him and asked for no jail time.
Assistant City Attorney Barbara Serrano initially had recommended Hansen be ordered not to contact Lawal or his wife and receive 40 hours of community service. But the judge opted against community service as part of Hansen’s sentence, saying he already participates in similar service for the community in his public role. The judge also included conditions that Hansen pay $343 in costs and fees, avoid committing further criminal-law violations, abstain from using alcohol and marijuana, and be monitored by city probation services for a year.
Hansen can have his conviction dropped in a year, as long as he stays out of trouble and complies with the other court conditions.
Hansen, 52, gained fame as the hard-charging Norwegian-American skipper of the Seattle-based fishing boat, the Northwestern, on the cable TV series “The Deadliest Catch” — a reality show featuring the lives of fishing crews that harvest crabs from the treacherous waters of Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
Hansen was in Ballard this past year celebrating Syttende Mai — Norway’s Constitution Day on May 17, 2017 — with his family before his encounter with Lawal, the Uber driver.
According to a Seattle police report, Hansen became angry with Lawal after Hansen’s party canceled a ride home while it was underway through Uber’s digital app. After Lawal stopped the car and informed them they couldn’t pay with cash and had to submit another digital-ride request, Hansen and his son-in-law, Clark Pederson, became enraged and allegedly screamed and cursed at Lawal, threatened to beat him up, insulted him and spat in his face.
Hansen then got out of the Kia Sportage owned by Lawal’s wife, and allegedly kicked and dented the car, causing about $1,800 in damage, according to court records.
Officers arrested an intoxicated and belligerent Hansen a short time later outside of his Shoreline home during an encounter caught on police video. Hansen was booked into jail and charged with misdemeanor assault and property-destruction and later publicly apologized.
A misdemeanor assault charge against Pederson, a crew member on Hansen’s fishing boat, later was amended to harassment, court records show. Earlier this year, he similarly agreed to deferred prosecution, receiving community service and fines.
As Hansen was prepared to be sentenced this past month, his attorney, Andrew Huff, told the judge that a voluntary alcohol assessment had found that Hansen had no significant problem, and the city attorney didn’t seek any special alcohol or drug conditions as part of the initial sentencing recommendation.
But McKenna raised skepticism, postponed the sentencing and ordered Hansen to get re-evaluated. The judge also told Serrano to find out more details about Hansen’s 2008 conviction in Alaska.
On Thursday, Serrano presented the judge with records from the Alaska incident showing Hansen was charged after he allegedly punched a bar patron after the man recognized the reality TV star and introduced himself.
Hansen initially was charged with assault, but the charge was later reduced under a plea deal to disorderly conduct, Serrano said.
“All witnesses said Hansen was extremely intoxicated,” a police report said.
Serrano told the judge she shared details from the Alaska case with Hansen’s alcohol counselor, who recommended, with Hansen’s agreement, that he abstain from alcohol and drug use for a year while undergoing treatment and submitting to random drug tests. Serrano asked Judge McKenna to also include probation monitoring of Hansen as part of the sentencing.
Before imposing the sentence, the judge asked Huff if, given Hansen’s frequent traveling, he’d be able to comply with the court’s conditions.
“He will do it,” Huff said. “He will complete this sentence.”
After the hearing, Hansen could be heard disputing to his lawyer that the Uber driver who attended the sentencing with his wife and attorney was the same man Hansen assaulted last year.
“That’s not the driver,” Hansen angrily told Huff before they privately conferred.
Harry H. Schneider Jr., the attorney for Lawal, the Uber driver, issued a statement Thursday evening:
“Within a few minutes of promising Judge McKenna that he would behave himself in the future, and after the Court had just issued an order that Mr. Hansen should not have any contact with either Mr. or Mrs. Lawal, I’m advised that Sig Hansen walked in front of Mr. Lawal and said, ‘Who is this guy? He’s not the Uber driver.’ This happened even though the Prosecutor had already made the Court aware of their presence in the court room and inquired whether they wished to address the Court. That seems a very odd way to show remorse or an intention to refrain from offensive behavior in the future.”
Lawal, 35 and a recent immigrant from Nigeria, and his wife, Tara, each submitted victim-impact statements to city prosecutors as part of Hansen’s criminal case. In his statement, Lawal described how he was “terrified for my life” at the way Hansen and Pederson lashed out at him that night.
The encounter left Lawal depressed and ashamed, he and his wife wrote. He wasn’t able to sleep at night, fearful of being attacked while driving and generally feeling unwelcome in the United States. Lawal spent time with a therapist, returned to Africa for several weeks and considered permanently leaving the United States and his wife and son, the statements said.
“In my country, in my village, if you spit in someone’s face, it is the worst insult imaginable,” his statement said. “If you spit on a person’s face, they are humiliated and they might commit suicide. It’s the highest form of disgrace in my country. It’s worse than hitting someone.”
The couple has since sued Hansen and Pederson for assault and battery, seeking compensation for property damage, emotional distress and legal fees and costs. The civil case is scheduled for trial in August.